Funding boost secures future of Norfolk’s Roman town

The future of an internationally important Roman town buried in an area of Norfolk has been secured thanks to a huge funding boost.

The National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) has announced it will be giving �374,000 to the Norfolk Archaeological Trust (NAT) to purchase part of Venta Icenorum which lies beneath fields at Caistor St Edmund.

The Roman town – one of only three Roman regional centres in Britain that remains not built over – was at high risk of permanent damage as a result of farming and unauthorised metal detecting. It has been saved thanks to the NHMF grant and support from other organisations. As well as the NHMF grant, English Heritage has contributed �40,000, South Norfolk Council has provided �20,000, and the rest of the money needed came from NAT's own resources.

Peter Wade-Martins, director of NAT, said: 'I am absolutely delighted the trust has managed to acquire this vitally important part of the Roman town which is a significant addition to the 120 acres already under our conservation management.'

The lack of development on the 55-acre site being purchased means it provides an exceptionally rare opportunity to study how the Romans lived and understand changes that occurred in urban centres across Britain and Europe after the fall of Rome. There is strong evidence Venta Icenorum was occupied into the Anglo-Saxon period.

Venta Icenorum straddled both sides of the River Tas and was the Roman capital of Norfolk and Suffolk. The NAT already owns part of the town to the east of the river. The newly purchased land to the west will now be reconnected to the town and operate as an entire archaeological site freely accessible to the public.

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